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Are Our Grandparents Carrying Our Economic Answers to Their Graves?

It’s been said that those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Do past generations hold locked within them the answers to today’s challenges? Historical fiction author Marnie Pehrson, author of An Uncertain Justice, says they do. “Since we seem to be repeating history,” says Pehrson, “we would do well to learn from those who have ‘been there, done that.’”

Unfortunately, those who were children during the Great Depression are dying daily and their knowledge is fading with them. In researching the economic challenges and effects the last legal hanging in the state of Georgia had on her grandfather, Sherman Morton, Pehrson interviewed many who lived through the Great Depression. In doing so, she uncovered seven traits possessed by those who not only survived, but also went on to thrive.

Hope – Pehrson found that those who believed in something higher than themselves faired better. “My grandfather had a strong faith and a hope for the future that carried him through. He had dreams. Because of these, he went from being a poor mountain boy with only a 4th grade education to a successful land developer who left his grandchildren a significant inheritance.”

Adaptability – On more than one occasion, Sherman Morton was quoted as saying, "I don’t understand why men didn’t have jobs during the depression. I had four of them.” Successful people adapt. They don’t keep doing what worked yesterday; they adapt to what works today.

Integrity – An Uncertain Justice illustrates how those who live with integrity eventually prosper while those who seek for quick fixes and instant gratification end up in troubled situations. “What happened to the Baker boys with the last legal hanging in Georgia is a testament to this,” asserts Pehrson. 

Resourcefulness – Back in the ‘30s people made their dresses out of feed sacks, saved buttons, and flipped their shirt collars over to make them look better. They knew how to repair, make do and get by.

Self-Sufficiency – Thadda Springfield Moody, the author’s great aunt, often said of the depression era, “We had everything but money.” Those who were able to garden faired better than those in cramped cities who didn’t have their own sources of food. “With what we’ve learned about container gardening, everyone today should grow some food of their own,” advises Pehrson.

Tenacity – Sherman Morton rose from a poor coal minor to a railroad engineer, to a prominent land developer in Southeast, Tennessee. It was his love for work and his willingness to never give up that drove him onward. At 90 he was out moving rocks and going to restaurant management school.

Perspective – “There’s a stark difference between our generation’s unwillingness to wait five minutes for a file to download and our grandparents’ tenacity to plant fruit trees that wouldn’t bear a harvest for three years, or to invest in and develop property over a lifetime,” Pehrson concludes. “We could use more of their perspective today.”

Excerpts and more details on An Uncertain Justice may be obtained from . Marnie Pehrson may be reached for interviews and speaking engagements at or 706-866-2295 or 

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